wrong for a dad to review a movie like "Camp Rock."
Dads don't know squat about movies and music that
appeals to tween and teenage girls. I'll
probably get emails from fans of the movie and fans of
the Jonas Bros. for saying "mean things" about the movie
and the music. As I tell my daughter, I don't mean to be
mean. Critical, yes. Mean, nah!
"Camp Rock: Extended Rock Star Edition" is now available on DVD.
Going to camp has changed a lot since I was a kid. My parents sent me to a camp with a bunch of strangers and we had to sleep in a cabin with a roof made of trash bag material. We were there to meet new friends (who we'd never see again), learn about nature, and take home some good and not-so-good memories of camp. Now there are camps for artists, musicians and promising rocket scientists. "Camp Rock" would be ideal for an aspiring rock star. You've got the cute kids, a cool camp counselor, incredible bonfires by a picturesque lake, and everyone sings, dances and plays musical instruments with near perfection. Everyone is pretty or handsome.
The story deals with a perky girl named Mitchie (Demi Lovato) who wants not only to be a pop star, but wants to go to Camp Rock. She runs into the popular singing diva of the camp, Tess Tyler (Meaghan Jette Martin), who tries to knock the talented Mitchie down a few rungs. Coming to the camp to teach is rock star Shane Gray (Joe Jonas). He hears Mitchie singing and just has to find that girl.
So here's the "mean" part of this review. As much as I've enjoyed Disney Channel's other big production, the original "High School Musical," I didn't enjoy "Camp Rock" that much. The story uses all the cliches used in current tween/teen movies like "Bratz," or television shows like "That's So Raven." The ingredients for a movie like this include mixing in a talented & innocent girl, a snobby rich girl who tries to ruin the talented girl's musical aspirations, a hunk who also sings and dances, and a big finale involving a talent show. "Camp Rock" combines these elements and the movie feels like it's painted-by-numbers. The movie doesn't seem to have the energy and sweetness that "High School Musical" and "High School Musical 2" had. This may be an unfair comparison between the two franchises, but they're essentially cut from the same cloth. This isn't to say that the "Camp Rock" production is not worth seeing (I'm sure that most kids have already seen this movie at least once, or twice...), but if I had to chose which movie franchise to watch, my preference leans more to those wholesome kids of East High.
The cast is good in the movie. Demi Lovato comes in a long line of Disney Channel stars who can act, sing and dance. She has a very sweet smile and that Lizzie McGuire/Gabriella Montez perky quality to her. She lights up the screen. Her friend in the movie, Caitlyn (played by actress Alison Stoner), is underused. Stoner is also multitalented and though there are some dance numbers in the movie, Stoner could've been allowed to show off her dancing skills more prominently. She's a good actress and the script places her as a sidekick without a lot to say. Joe Jonas does a respectable job in the role as the rock star who dreads teaching at Camp Rock. The other Jonas Bros. in the movie, Kevin & Nick, are given thankless walk-on roles and are there as an excuse to have the band on-screen.
Now this is the part where I get even more mean. Girls. Moms. Dads who might like the Jonas Bros. I don't think the Jonas Bros. are all "that." As talented as these young guys are, I don't believe they're on a level with other bands who started out young. I must be showing my age here, because I don't think for a minute that the Jonas Bros. can be compaired to the early incarnations of U2, the Rolling Stones, The Beatles, or Stevie Wonder. I almost fell out of my chair when I saw that the latest Jonas Bros. album, "A Little Bit Longer," received four stars in Rolling Stone. With the near hysteria and skillfully marketed hype over this band, you'd think The Beatles had been reborn. Sorry, but this is very clever marketing and bombardment by Disney to create fans of the Jonas Bros. They may have stalled last year with their re-worded remake of the Kim Wilde song, "Kids of America." But they got a huge boost by being plugged on "Hannah Montana" and in the 3-D movie of Hannah Montana.
I probably know more about the Jonas Bros. than I could ever want. After watching Disney Channel with my daughter, there is a constant barrage of all things Jonas Bros. I've listened to these brothers sing and play everyday at home or in the car. The vocals, lead by Nick and Kevin, sound almost identical to each other. The songs sound like they have riffs from 1980s ballads. This isn't a slam against the Jonas Brothers' talent, but I guess I can only take so much teenage crooning and high pitched vocals. They remind of me of some of the high school bands I grew up with. The girls loved them, even they didn't sing that well, and most of us guys hated them. (I don't hate the Jonas Bros. I'm sure they're great guys). I just don't care for their music (it's true, I am a mean old man!)
"Camp Rock" isn't the best Disney Channel production. It's a pretty easy movie to watch, and I'm sure that many tween and teen girls love this movie. It ain't my cup 'o tea, but then again, maybe I'm just a mean old man.
Special thanks to Click Communications
Photos: © Disney. All rights reserved.
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